More people need to watch Apple’s Genius Black Comedy thriller
when you think, you think: Money. Now put that cash in the safe pair of hands that is TV creator Sharon Horgan, and you have one of the best TV shows of 2022.
On the surface, Bad Sisters seems like a sweary, boozy sitcom about sisters doing rebellious things. He is. It’s also a disturbing drama about abuse and murder, set in the soulful postcard setting that is Dublin.
This unique hybrid of tones is the result of Apple TV Plus’ hiring of prolific sitcom creator and actor Horgan (Pulling, Catastrophe). His effervescent characters are one part chaos, two parts charm, and three parts moral gray area.
The show’s intriguing format places us in the aftermath of a murder, then travels back in time to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s both a thriller and a How? ‘Or’ Whatunit.
A man named John Paul Williams (Claes Bang) is the murder victim. The show gives a pretty solid justification for his disappearance. Clearly, John Paul is misogynistic, racist and sexist, traits that he barely conceals behind a beautiful husband’s veil.
John Paul is married to Grace Garvey (Anne-Marie Duff), the second eldest of five Garvey sisters: Eva (Sharon Horgan) is the oldest; Ursula (Eva Birthistle) is the middle child; Bibi (Sarah Greene) is the second youngest; and Becka (Eve Hewson), known as Baby Becka, is the youngest. Eva and Becka are about 20 years apart, and their mother-daughter dynamic embodies the Garvey tribe: at one point, Eva jokes that she might kill Becka. At another, she drops everything to run alongside Becka.
Orphaned as children, the sisters form a support network that includes the service of murdering evil husbands. The sisters observe how John Paul transformed his wife Grace into a sweet mouse. At one end of the monster spectrum, he locks her in their house, claiming he is protecting her. On the other, he ostensibly kills their daughter’s cat – and guess who’s responsible?
Everything escalates as John Paul pulls each of the Garvey sisters into his devastating vortex. To survive – and to free Grace from this sophisticated prison – the Garveys come up with various creative ways to kill John Paul without getting caught. There are many unsuccessful attempts. The high jinks of incompetent killers are goofy peak entertainment.
The question is: which of the brothers and sisters succeeds in assassinating John Paul? Or is it all together?
The current timeline produces more incidents as the Garveys dodge the investigation of equally bumbling life insurance agents. The agents are desperate to prove the murder and avoid sinking their ailing business with a huge payout. Investigators are also siblings, so they too know the feeling of suddenly becoming blind to the law if it means supporting their loved ones.
When Bad Sisters premiered onin August, he dropped episodes every week. Now you can swallow it all at once. Bad Sisters ruthlessly forces you to do so. Each episode ends with a bombshell or cliffhanger, then struts through the end credits to songs titled Hot Knife or Kill Kill Kill.
Not to mention that PJ Harvey’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Who by Fire plays in the opening credits. Immerse yourself in the haunting anthem, but keep an eye out for strategically placed objects on screen, all of which relate to the unfolding of the murder.
Bad Sisters was originally planned as a 10-episode limited series, an adaptation of the Belgian crime comedy Clan. It wraps it all up with a neat arc, but the impact of the Garvey sisters lingers beyond that. No matter how grim their situation gets, the Garveys are endlessly watchable. Whether dealing with searing trauma or laughing at the absurdity of their predicament, the effect is intoxicating, sitting you right at the dining table, close to the warmth.
In November, Apple TV Plus renewed Bad Sisters for a second season. The first delivered one of the most satisfying endings imaginable, so it would be a feat to replicate that for Season 2. Still, writer Horgan deserves complete faith. It would be a coup even if Season 2 was just the Garvey sisters watching TV, Gogglebox style.
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